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Honda Leads the Race in Renewable Fuels

October 22nd, 2008
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Honda will debut its 100 per cent ethanol-powered V8 engines at the Nikon Indy 300 on the Gold Coast this weekend.

Ethanol-fuelled engines were first introduced to the IndyCar series in the USA at the beginning of the 2007 season.

Honda Australia’s Managing Director, Mr. Yasuhide Mizuno said that Honda is always looking for better ways to deliver reliable, sustainable power.

“This month we will see ethanol powered V8s in Australia for the first time and witness another example of Honda’s innovation,” Mr Mizuno said.

Ethanol fuel, derived from plants, is one of the most commonly used renewable fuels. However rapid growth in ethanol production has sparked global controversy and prompted Honda to develop this latest technological breakthrough.

The ‘food Vs fuel’ debate centres on the competing needs for vegetable matter to produce fuel and to feed the world’s population. Some argue that the demand for both fuel and food will intensify competition, lead to shortages and drive up the price of corn.

In response to this challenge, Honda revealed last year it had developed cutting edge technology that extracts ethanol from the inedible stalks and leaves of plants, leaving the edible parts for human consumption.

Honda set up an experimental production facility at its R&D campus at Wako in Japan to further study the market potential of this technology. Honda joined with the Research Institute of Innovative Technology for the Earth (RITE) and established the basic technology to produce ethanol fuel from cellulose and hemicellulose, both found in soft biomass such as vegetable waste which includes inedible leaves and stalks of plants such as rice straw.

Until now, converting soft biomass to ethanol represented a technical challenge as the current technology delivered an extremely low ethanol yield. The RITE-Honda process succeeds through application of revolutionary engineering technology and represents an important step forward for practical application of soft biomass as a fuel source.

The RITE-Honda process holds enormous potential as a major step towards the realisation of an energy sustainability society. It reinforces Honda’s industry-leading efforts to address the environmental challenges of global climate change, emissions reduction and energy sustainability through alternative fuels.

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